“Food for Thought” By replacing salt with spices and herbs you can reduce your daily sodium intake

1584 views

Robert Obst

The 2010 dietary guidelines have been out for over a month. However, many people are still unsure of exactly what they should adjust in their diet.  Countless people have been asking; what is the most important change to the new guidelines?

One of the most important changes would have to be the new sodium recommendation.

The 2010 sodium recommendation is 2,300 mg per day.  This is equivalent to one teaspoon.  Many people eat that in one sitting at their favorite local eatery.  The 2010 recommendation is one and a half times that of the American Heart Association’s sodium recommendation of 1,500 mg per day.  That is equal to less than a half of a teaspoon, which can be overshot easily with a burger and fries for lunch.

So, how can you reduce your intake without sacrificing flavor?  Many are accustomed to the taste of salt, which makes this an arduous habit to relinquish.  Herbs and spices can quickly replace salt without forfeiting flavor.

While preparing your meals at home is the most efficient way of controlling your sodium intake, this is not always an option for many people’s demanding schedules.  However, planning ahead and making as many of your meals yourself as possible will give you optimum control.

Experiment with new herbs and spices, they are teeming with flavor and many beneficial antioxidants.  Ditch the store-bought salad dressings.  Although some offer low-sodium options, they are few and far between.  Learn to make your own; it is simple and takes minimal time and ingredients.  When you master it, they are incomparable to store-bought options.

Another contributor to high sodium diets is processed food and many frozen foods.  Read the labels and make sure to pay attention to sodium. 2,300mg is not a lot, especially when shopping for frozen prepared meals. Reading labels cannot be overemphasized.  Sodium could be hiding in places you may not expect.  Many brands of chicken are injected with a saline solution to increase juiciness, which increases the sodium content in the chicken. Then, if you season it with salt before cooking, and once more at the table, you are consuming one salt-packed breast.

Canned foods are also very high in sodium.  However, many companies are coming out with no-salt-added varieties, which allows you to control the amount of salt added.  If the no-salt-added option is not available, shoot for the low-sodium.

So, “Food for Thought,” the 2010 recommendations are out and our country’s sodium intake needs to be reduced.  Reduce yours by preparing meals at home, reading labels and using herbs and spices instead of salt.  To your health!

E-mail:rcobst@radford.edu